Fire in El Mirage : Smoke, flames visible for miles as firewood, mulch storage area burns
Fire in El Mirage : Smoke, flames visible for miles as firewood, mulch storage area burns

Fire in El Mirage : Smoke, flames visible for miles as firewood, mulch storage area burns

A mulch fire in El Mirage that partially lit up the sky Saturday night will likely burn for several days.

It started around 9 p.m. on Nov. 22 at a business just north of Luke Air Force Base at a mulch and firewood facility near Dysart Road and Butler Drive.

Firefighters from several agencies including Glendale, Rural Metro, Phoenix and Luke Air Force Base have been working to control the fire. Smoke is coming from 20 acres of dried mulch and organic material piled about 15 feet high in a large pit.

Colin Williams with Rural Metro Fire said the company uses organic compost in place of chemicals. The business produces organic composting fertilizer for West Valley farmers, and the pile of organic material has been accumulating for nearly three years. Williams said the fire is still burning, because the organic material is difficult to put out.

“Because of the size of this, literally acres and acres of burning material, water will not penetrate that, and there’s no tractors large enough to really get in there and pull it out and break it up so it can be extinguished,” Williams said. “So it’s going to need to burn itself out.”

That is expected to take days, but Williams said firefighters are confident the fire is not going to spread further.

“Everything that could burn is burning now. We want that to happen as quickly as possible to eliminate the future impact with the air quality. Unfortunately, there just isn’t a way to put water on this because of the size of this,” Williams said. “Time is going to have to do the firefight out there.”

The fire is also a huge economic blow for the company. Williams said the property owner runs nearly all the farms in the area near Luke Air Force Base. The material had not yet been ground up and watered to begin the organic breakdown process.

“(It’s) three years worth of work and a tremendous financial loss for this company,” Williams said. “It has significant impact on the neighborhood.”

Williams said the property owner is devastated and in a state of shock.

“He’s most concerned about the firefighters and their abilities to stay save and keep this from spreading to other structures and other stockpiles on the property,” Williams said.

Authorities say the fire is not threatening any homes. Smoke will be visible throughout the Valley for several days, but Williams said it’s not toxic for residents. He said, once the fire is out, the next steps will be investigating how the fire started.


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